Unilever ice cream brands boost overall sales

Posted April 23, 2017

Consumer goods maker Unilever reported a surprise acceleration in quarterly sales on Thursday, helped by price increases.

The company reported a 2.9% rise in underlying sales growth, which was primarily due to price increases as the amount of goods sold dropped 0.1%.

Underlying sales-which strip out the impact of foreign exchange volatility-grew by 2.9%, beating analyst estimates for growth of 2%.

Nestle and Unilever are joining apparel makers Burberry Group Plc and Ralph Lauren, which are trying to wean themselves off discounting, especially in the US Alcoholic beverage companies such as Diageo Plc are also trying to ride a trend of "premiumization" as consumers shift to fewer but more expensive purchases.

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In London, Unilever shares were trading at 3,983.50 pence, up 1.17 percent.

Unilever CFO Graeme Pitkethly said on an analyst call that US consumer spend was down throughout the quarter and noted that tax repayments and some political angst may have contributed to the subdued quarter.

While it aims for volume-led growth, Unilever's expansion this quarter was entirely dependent on rising prices as volume slipped and prices jumped by 3%.

As of 09:20 BST, Unilever's share price had added 1.13 percent to 3,982.00p, outperforming the broader London market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index having slipped marginally into the red and now standing 0.05 percent lower at 7,110.85 points.

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The company cited gains in its home- and personal-care businesses, while sales were unchanged in the food division.

On the other hand, other household brands such as The Anglo-Dutch owner of Dove, Ben & Jerry's are reporting low sales growth of 2.9%.

To appease investors, some of which were disappointed by the company's refusal to engage in takeover talks, Unilever announced plans this month aimed at lifting shareholder returns.

"The first quarter shows growth once more ahead of our markets".

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Mr Polman also said that he expects the company can boost its operating margins by 80 basis points this year as the business focuses on driving the efficiencies that Kraft Heinz said that it had identified whilst pursuing its takeover.